Don't Forget the Plastic Bag! While Walking His Dog, Owner Ponders Life's Basic Functions

since moving to a city after 40 years in the sticks, local writer Ron Davis discovered dog poop is a pretty big deal

Ron Davis

Just about every morning my yellow lab, Penny, and I take a walk. Usually we get out pretty early, just when empty cars in driveways are coming to life, remotely triggered by the owners getting ready for work. There’s very little traffic then, though more than it’s been over the past year, and Penny and I usually walk in the street, since otherwise Penny would have to stop and sniff every blade of grass, mailbox, or fire hydrant another dog may have visited in the past decade.

Besides burning a few calories, you’d think these walks would be a great opportunity to plan out my day, think about obligations, enjoy the squirrels and crows, or even meditate over some mystery of life. However, usually I find myself thinking about … poop.

You see, since moving into a city after 40 years in the sticks, I’ve discovered dog poop is a pretty big deal here. Will this be a one or two poop walk? Have I brought enough plastic grocery bags? If Penny hesitates on someone’s lawn, will the owners be hovering at their window, ready to harangue me if I don’t seem to be preparing for a poop scoop?

My neighbor got scolded the other day for allowing her little cattle dog to urinate on someone else’s boulevard. “I have cameras!” the pajama-ed property owner yelled.

And what about pee? My neighbor got scolded the other day for allowing her little cattle dog to urinate on someone else’s boulevard. “I have cameras!” the pajama-ed property owner yelled. Granted, a female dog’s pee may kill a little patch of grass, but am I now required to carry a catch-cup in addition to a poop bag? I guess there are dog diapers, but who would be humiliated the most, me or Penny?

Within walking distance is a scrubby little woods where I sometimes let Penny off leash, hoping she’ll find a hidden spot to leave her calling card. I like to think she enjoys a “free-range poop” once in a while, though I hate to deny non-dog owners that bit of amusement they probably get at the sight of me carrying a steaming bag of feces. Lately, however, Penny seems to be realizing that once she poops she’ll be back on leash, so she saves it for the walk home.

I heard a comedian once say that if aliens on another planet were watching us through gigantic telescopes, they’d probably guess dogs are the masters here on Earth, since we – their apparent slaves – feed them, groom them, take them for walks, and dutifully dispose of their most disgusting bodily functions.

No matter who’s the master and who’s the slave, I get it: Nobody wants to step in dog poop. And no matter the unpleasant inconvenience of cleaning up after Penny, at the very least, a little humility is said to be good for the soul. But this small adjustment to city life, for me, has broader implications. Leaving the seclusion of living in the woods to rejoin a community, coupled with the experiences of the past year, has brought me a richer appreciation for the notion that we are, as echoed so many times in 2020, “all in this together.”

Pet Project is sponsored by:

Dogtopia
2706 Golf Rd,
Eau Claire

Pet Project is sponsored by:

Dogtopia
2706 Golf Rd,
Eau Claire